CEOs and business leaders across industries have been eagerly discussing the next wave of web: Decentralized web and the 3.0 transition. The Semantic Web, or Web 3.0, is the latest version of the internet based on public blockchains, a record-keeping system best known for facilitating cryptocurrency transactions. If Web 1.0 was viewed as a huge read-only encyclopedia, then Web 2.0 was a type of Wikipedia and when we began to use the internet socially, whereas Web 3.0 will be all of that along with a massive database.

Is 3.0 an upgraded version of what we now have? According to Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web, “People keep asking what Web 3.0 is. I think maybe when you’ve got an overlay of scalable vector graphics–everything rippling and folding and looking misty–on Web 2.0 and access to a semantic web integrated across a huge space of data, you’ll have access to an incredible data resource…”

According to Inquirer, this new generation of the internet will bring us networking that is essentially three things:

  1. Open. Online networks will be developed from open-source software. It will be created by an open community so everyone, worldwide, can see it.
  2. Trustless. No-one is overseeing. Users will be allowed to interact publicly or privately.
  3. Permissionless. What it says on the can. You will no longer have to meet special requirements from anyone or any group; you can just go in and join.

Startups Leading the Charge

Web 3.0 promises a decentralized, free and transparent flow of digital content and data. Noticeably, startups are leading the charge to offer big tech alternatives for a smooth transition into this new era, says GlobalData, the leading data and analytics company.

Kiran Raj, Principal Disruptive Tech Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “A sharp rise in public awareness about data privacy has stimulated the movement of fundamentally restructuring the Internet. Blockchain-powered Web 3.0 holds a promise to realize the Internet’s transition from its information-centric model to a user-centric decentralized model.”

Vaibhav Gundre, Senior Disruptive Tech Analyst at GlobalData, notes: “In 2021, Google, Meta, Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple combinedly generated and controlled nearly 57% of the global Internet traffic. Web 3.0 envisions to cut the big tech influence by offering decentralized social networks, browsers, data storage, computation, video and music streaming, content monetization, banking services, cloud-based payments, and others to create decentralized ecosystems across industries.”

Can Web 3.0 Unlock Potential for Industry Startups?

Finance: Web 3.0 is already transforming the way financial institutions and tech companies interact with their customers. Look forward to a more personalized internet. FinTech companies will have instant advantages, but traditional banking will also be involved through collaboration with innovative startups. Starting now, financial institutions need to be prepared by strengthening their in-house tech and garnering investment.

Just last week, The Actuary reported that FinTech funding via M&As resulted in $210 billion raised in 2021. Cybersecurity saw investment levels of  $4.85 billion and WealthTech $1.62 billion. Crypto and Blockchain attracted $30.2 billion, and payments attracted $51.7 billion–mainly driven by open banking solutions.

One can expect faster, more convenient financial services with Web 3.0, including better insurer/broker collaboration, smooth sending and receiving of funds and secure crypto wallets.

Media: The strength of Web 3.0 and decentralized content will play to the needs and straight to the pockets of creators. Those creators will have full control and can provide direct-to-fan content, tailored to their needs, opening up monetization opportunities.

Currently, video is seemingly everywhere, and is one of the best ways for media and entertainment startups to get their messages across. However, it’s also a very centralized game with YouTube holding most of the cards. Content is uploaded to YouTube, and it’s then a YouTube video. Explaining how Web 3.0 will give content creators greater control and open up those monetization opportunities, using decentralization and direct-to-fan networks, Jan Umanzky at SportsProMedia outlines the case for transformation, and the need to also keep using existing platforms for exposure.

Technology: GAMAM, or namely Google, Amazon, Meta, Apple, and Microsoft— the tech giants all enjoyed another good year in 2021 despite the ongoing pandemic. They continue to dominate our web browsers. As Web 3.0 becomes the buzzword on the lips of the tech industry’s players, investor interest in startups has been steadily growing too. Crunchbase’s Chris Metinko reports on Alchemy—the San Francisco-based blockchain developer that provides tools and hosting for transactions on blockchain and Web—tripling their own valuation in just four months. Not magic—just the power of funding interest in Web 3.0 startups!

We took the opportunity here at Digital CxO to ask Vaibhav Gundre some additional questions:

Q: From a cybersecurity perspective, what are the risks, and will they differ from now? How will this affect data manipulation and information quality?

 “Cybersecurity risks will differ as the governing architecture of applications will also differ. In Web 3.0, decentralized applications (dApps) use smart contracts, decentralized network nodes, and blockchain frameworks which are different from traditional Web 2.0 applications.

As there are no intermediaries, addressing and updating security becomes harder, and it becomes extremely important that the rules of smart contracts or other potential Web 3.0 aspects are fool-proof. This is the reason leading web3 companies such as Certik, Securify, and Forta focus on code perfection and the security of applications for the prevention of any cyberattacks, as there is no well-defined authority to lead the response to any such potential failures. Cybersecurity risks are associated with user authentication and signing in on dApps to allow retrieval of information from wallets. Currently, there is no verifying mechanism to check if the data is coming from the intended dApp or the data is tamper-proof. Also, managing private cryptographic keys to wallets is a complex and risk-prone area for cyberattacks that requires work to be done for easy key management for users.

Data manipulation and information quality are the present challenges associated with Web 3.0. AI-bias or the manipulation of data fed to the machine learning algorithms can lead to manipulation of results. Information quality is expected to be skewed in this early development stage of Web 3.0, but should improve as widespread adoption takes place. Innovations leading to alleviating cybersecurity concerns could help improve information quality, but the risk of data manipulation can persist.”

Q: If the promise of web 3.0 is to make all the webs data compatible with AI technologies, will this provide a massive training set? Could the result be a step function in AI capability compared to most of which is currently inaccessible as “unstructured data?

 “Yes. Web 3.0 enables the free and transparent flow of data and value over the internet to encompass all the online activities including digital assets, online identities, and user-controlled content. Semantic search capabilities of Web 3.0 would allow improvement in web technologies to search and analyze based on the capability to comprehend words, rather than only keywords. For Web 3.0 to realize its vision of the user-centric intelligent web, AI and machine learning technologies need to improve in parallel to tackle the problem of data duplicates or unstructured data.”

Q: Will Web 3.0 really bring more transparency and democratization to the digital world? 

“Ownership and control of the content lies with users, while the governance of the internet is driven by blockchain-powered decentralization and transparency. In the decentralized internet of Web 3.0, users can decide on what data to share and what data to keep private.”

Q: In conclusion, what about privacy regulations?

“The data privacy and protection regulations such as GDPR in the EU should spur the movement of fundamentally restructuring the internet. The regulatory crackdown on big tech companies and the increased popularity of digital tokens are some of the drivers for Web 3.0.”